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Step by step irrigation installation 2


Using a standard pressure gauge, begin by determining the level of the water pressure produced at your outdoor faucet. Screw the pressure gauge onto the nearest faucet to the water meter. Make sure no water is running anywhere inside or outside your house. Turn on the faucet with the gauge attached. The gauge shows your water pressure in pounds per square inch (PSI). Allow water to run into a 5-gallon bucket to measure the amount of water released in one minute. You may also call your local water company to find out your water pressure. This information, along with a scaled drawing of your lawn, will be used to determine the layout of your sprinkler system. 

Once again, you can do this yourself. However, a much easier alternative is to let the experts take care of it for you.  Several manufactures (Rain Bird and Toro) will provide you with a system layout and a material list for little or no cost. The layout will include details such as how many zones and zone valves will be needed for your lawn, the amount of pipe needed, the placement of your sprinkler heads, and a complete materials list.

Write the pressure reading on your information sheet.

The meter size ( 5/8",3/4" or 1") is usually stamped on the outside of the meter. If you can’t find the size, just call the water company, they’ll know.

Write the meter size on your information sheet.

Next identify if your supply line is Copper, Galvanized, or PVC. Copper is generally a copper color, galvanized is generally silver and textured in appearance and PVC is usually white.

Write the supply line type on your information sheet.

Find the pipe that runs from the water meter to your house. Wrap a piece of string around the pipe, mark it, then measure how much string it took to go around the pipe. Check your string length on the table below to find your service line size. For example, if your string measures 4" and you have galvanized pipe, your service line is 1 inch.

Determining Size of Service Line

Length of String 2 3/4" 3 1/4" 3 1/2" 4" 4 3/8" 5"
Size of Copper 3/4"   1"   1 1/4"  
Size of Galvanized   3/4"   1"   1 1/4"
Size of PVC   3/4"   1"   1 1/4"

Write the service line size on your information sheet.

Now it is time to determine what type of pipe you will be using. Two options are polyethylene and PVC and they both have their own advantages. 

  • Polyethylene pipe is more flexible and a better choice for cooler climates.
  • PVC pipe can be used in warmer climates where you don’t have to worry about freeze-thaw cycles.


Get a measurable container, like a 5 gallon bucket, make sure no other water is running in or outside the house, turn the faucet on all the way and time how long it takes to fill the container.

Our 5 gallon bucket took 17.5 seconds to fill so; number of gallons divided by number of seconds to fill x 60 seconds = GPM (5 divided by 17.5 x 60 = 17.14). Round your answer down to the nearest whole number. Our example gives us 17 GPM.

Note: For pump systems, check with your well and pump dealer or the owner’s manual of your pump to determine its pressure and flow capacity.

Write your water capacity on your information sheet.

Include lawn, sidewalks, driveways, and walkways and don’t forget the house. It’s a good idea to sketch everything on a piece of scratch paper, and write in the measurements before drawing your final plan on the graph paper supplied. Then, just transfer everything, to scale, to the graph paper.

  • Mark your water meter or pump location with a box .
  • Mark your desired timer location with a circle .
  • Mark your desired manifold locations with an .

On your graph paper, each 1-inch square can be 10, 20, or 30 feet. Decide your scale and write it on your information sheet (important). Maximum lot size for Rain Bird’s Design Service is 240 x 300 feet.

Divide your layout into sections, pick out the different areas like, the front lawn, side lawn, flowerbeds etc.

Be sure to label all areas of your yard that you want watered. Rain Bird will make sprinkler head recommendations. If you have special watering requirements, such as wanting bubblers, label these areas. For the types of sprinkler heads that are available, refer to our online Underground Product Catalog. Also, if you have a particular area you want watered separately, such as gardens, roses, etc., mark that area ‘separate valves.’

Group similar types of plants together, like shrubs and ground cover. If you have big differences in the amount of sun different areas get, you may want to group them, too.



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